School districts tackle calendar revisions

Inclement weather resulted in a record number of missed days

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Thanks to a total of nine canceled school days, Camas School District students had many opportunities to play in the snow. On Jan. 9, these youngsters enjoyed spending their free time in picturesque downtown Camas. Officials with the Camas and Washougal school districts are currently working to determine how all of those missed instructional days will be made up, before the end of the school year in June.

Students in the Camas and Washougal School districts have missed an unprecedented number of instructional days due to inclement weather in December and January.

Both districts are working toward a solution.

Camas officials will be applying to the State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for a waiver of some emergency closure school days.

Camas students have missed nine days of school, while Washougal has totalled 10.

“As a district, we want to maximize the number of instructional hours we have, but we also realize the impact weather events can have to school calendars and on families,” said Jeff Snell, Camas School District superintendent. “Our current plan is to apply for three waiver days and add back instructional hours to existing days by changing early release and late start school days to regular school days.”

The Camas School District sent an email to all parents on Jan. 18, detailing the plan.

“In an effort to mitigate makeup days that extend the school year through the end of June, we have developed creative solutions to recapture lost instructional time,” it stated. “The plan balances the impact by adding instructional hours into existing school days with recaptured late start and early release time and adds days to the school year.”

With anticipated waivers, it allows for two additional inclement weather school closure days, if needed. However, additional early release/late start hours may be added back to the calendar.

“If we exceed two additional closure days, we will need to revisit our plan and potentially add more days to the end of the school year,” the email stated.

The Jan. 30 non-attendance day will now be a regular student attendance day. Wednesday elementary school early release days of Feb. 1 and 15, and March 1 and 15, are now full days.

Middle and high school late starts of Feb. 8 and 9, March 1 and 2, have been canceled.

The last day of school will be Monday, June 26, which will be a full day.

Spring break, April 3 to 7, will not be canceled. Officials are planning to keep high school graduation dates of Friday, June 16 for CHS and Saturday, June 17 for Hayes Freedom, the same.

“Moving these dates is problematic for students who are reporting to college or for service, not to mention the impact to families who have been planning for graduation since dates were announced,” the release stated. “We may need to offer some Saturday options for seniors to maintain these dates. We will communicate directly with senior students and their families if those options become a reality.”

Washougal School District Superintendent Mike Stromme has been in contact with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction regarding the waiver on school days missed. He told the School Board at a Tuesday, Jan. 24 meeting, that he plans to request five days be waived but will wait to apply until the end of March, to ensure that the inclement weather is finished.

“The Washougal School District will also use make-up days in our current school year calendar, previously identified when the 2016-17 calendar was built last school year,” Stromme said.

Those days are Friday, Feb. 3, Monday, Feb. 6 and Friday, May 26. Beginning Monday, Feb. 6, 18 minutes will be added to the end of each school day. Thursday, June 22, which is the last day of school, will be a full day instead of a 3-hour early release.

Washougal and Excelsior high school graduation dates will remain the same.

“Working with our employee association groups, we have found a solution that maintains the instructional program for students and hopefully also meets the needs of families at the end of the school year,” Stromme said.

OSPI has advised school districts not to make an application for the waiver until the middle or end of March, due to the possibility of more inclement weather. OSPI considers granting approval of waiver requests on a case-by-case basis, as per WAC 392-129-125.